When it comes to FPSs the last game I played through the entire campaign and enjoyed was Turok: Dinosaur Hunter for the Nintendo 64. Needless to say FPS games really aren’t my thing. Sure I’ve dabbled with Goldeneye 007, played some Timesplitters, and got my can kicked in a few matches of Halo multiplayer but I know when a genre just isn’t meant for me. I’m content to stick to MMOs and RPGs and let millions of other gamers virtually slaughter each other over and over again.
I’ve known about Destiny for years but due to my predisposition towards shooters I really didn’t give the game much thought. It was interesting to look at as an industry novelty but it was not a game I saw myself getting into. The past two E3s I was given the opportunity to see the game and passed in favor of interviewing other MMO developers. I figured the most fun I would get out of Destiny was joking about how Bungie liked to refer to it as a persistent online shooter... and what a great POS it has turned out to be.
I spent about 30 minutes playing the Destiny alpha a few months ago and it was enough for me to realize that I was actually going to like this game. Since the beta has kicked off last week I have logged about 15 hours and as soon as I get done writing this article I’ll probably add a couple more. But on to the real reason you are reading this column and that is to explain how Destiny really is an MMO.
Destiny has four different play modes. Story, Strike, and Explore are PvE modes and Control is PvP. For the current beta in the Story, Strike, and Explore modes players have access to Old Russia. You can see where the story will continue on the Moon but you cannot actually go there. Old Russia is a persistent map. As you travel around Old Russia you will share the zone with other players. Much like a typical zone in a MMO you will encounter other players as you each go about your merry way. When you are on a Story or Strike mission you will want to navigate through the zone to your objectives where you will enter an instance. This is a seamless transition. If you watch someone pass into their story instance they look like they are teleported in the old Star Trek TV show.
In the Explore mode you do just that, run around and explore. Don’t worry about being the first to tag an enemy either. If you shoot a mob you will share experience with all the other players that assisted on the kill. Cooperation is the name of the game. While you are in these persistent zones you will also encounter dynamic events. Some alien harvesters could come down from the sky and try to extract resources from the Earth and you and the rest of the guardians in the area will have to try to stop them, or you could find yourself holding off hostile forces while your ghost tries to extract information from some type of relic. During the Explore missions since you do not really have a story objective you will find beacons spread throughout the area that will have mini missions for you to undertake given to you from the Tower. Also any collectable items you see can be gathered by everyone in the area. Don’t worry about breaking from the pack to pick up that chest or spinmetal (a crafting material), everyone gets their own copy of it.
While I have not been able to really go hands on with it in beta, a crafting system is present in the game. Currently you can gather components and you can disenchant your old gear for money and based upon the quality of the gear different crafting components. You will be able to use these component items later in the game to upgrade your gear.
When not out on missions players can gather at the Tower. I liken this to the hub cities in Guild Wars 1, where players socialize before heading out on adventure. This is the last city on Earth protected by the Visitor and is the bastion of the Guardians. It is here that you can interact with the games friendly NPCs. You will find a variety of vendors as well as NPCs that will provide you with bounties to collect and missions to undertake. This is also the primary place in the game you will be in third person by default. The only other time you find yourself with an over the shoulder view is when you are riding a vehicle.